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Update from our Director of Library Services, Colette McKenna regarding Library Services During COVID Level 5 - Here
Alchemy is a philosophical and protoscientific tradition based in Europe, Egypt and Asia. The aim was to purify and mature certain objects such as gold. Practices of alchemy included:
Creating the philosopher's stone would ensure the transmutation of the elements but using the philosopher's stone also prolonged life. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Nicolas Flamel lived for over 600 years because he had the philosopher's stone.
The Marrow of Chymical Physick is an early example in the field of chemistry.
One of the experiments in The Marrow of Chymical Physick is to calcine gold with mercury. Calcination is heating an item to a high temperature in air or oxygen. In alchemy calcination is one of the twelve vital processes required for the transformation of a substance.
Credits: Thrasher, William. The Marrow of Chymical Physick, or, The Practice of Making Chymical Medicines. London: Peter Parker, 1669.
Transmogrification or shape-shifting is the ability of a being or creature to completely transform its physical form or shape. This is usualy achived through an inherent ability of a mythological creature, divine intervention or the use of magic. In Harry Potter Remus Lupin transforms as he's a werewolf whereas his friends James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew transform through the use of magic and become illegal Animagi. Harry learns about Animagi in his third year Transfiguration class with Professor McGonagall who is a registered Animagus.
Guazzo published Compendium Maleficarum (Book of Witches) in 1608 and it was the then authorative work on witchcraft. In the text he gives detailed descriptions of witches powers including transmogrification.
In 1929 under the direction of Montague Summer the first translation into English of Compendium Maleficarum was published.
Credits: Guazzo, Francesco Maria. Compendium maleficarum: collected in three books from many sources by Brother Francesco Maria Guazzo of the order of S. Ambrose ad nemus. showing iniquitous and execrable operations of witches against the human race and the divine remedies by which they may be frustrated. Ed. Montague Summers; Trans. E. A. Ashwin. London: J. Rodker, 1929.